All along with the sumptuous interior, silky-smooth ride they will have a right to expect. It’s a rejuvenated proposition.
On the move, BMW has thrown everything it knows at making this sixth generation 7 Series a match for its S-Class arch-rival. There’s even an optional feature that allows it to remotely park itself while you stand on the pavement and watch. More importantly, so-called ‘Carbon Core’ construction has taken 130kgs of weight out of the bodyshell, combining with the lower centre of gravity to make this car more agile. That’s a quality you can improve with optional xDrive 4WD and an extra-cost ‘Integral Active Steering’ system that gives you extra manoeuvrability through the corners. As with lesser BMWs, this one features a ‘Driving Performance Control’ set-up that allows you to tweak ride quality as well as throttle response and the change times of the standard 8-speed automatic gearbox. Here though, the system’s more sophisticated and includes a ‘set-and-forget’ ‘Adaptive’ mode that makes all the decisions for you, using predictive Navigation data to set the car up for the road ahead.
Keep your 7 Series in that ‘Adaptive’ setting and you’ll be able to continually get the most from the advanced 2-axle self-levelling air suspension system that’s been developed for this sixth generation model. Many owners will want to embellish this set-up with the optional ‘Executive Drive Pro’ active chassis control feature that uses electromechanically-adjustable anti-roll bars to compensate for bodyroll. As for engines, well the key addition to the line-up is a petrol/electric Plug-in hybrid 740e variant, but most prospective buyers will probably continue to want the 265bhp 730d six cylinder diesel derivative we’re trying here, a car capable of class-leading efficiency – 60. 1mpg on the combined cycle and 124g/km of CO2. Balancing this kind of frugality with extra power is the 320bhp 740d diesel version, plus there are six and eight cylinder 740Li and 750i conventional petrol variants for those that want them.
This, we’re told by BMW, is a ‘thoroughly modern interpretation of luxury’ – make of that what you will. Ultimately for some, it’ll come down to whether this sixth generation 7 Series model really has the road presence of a rival Mercedes S-Class. Many may think not, but we can see other boardroom buyers appreciating the styling’s conservative values.
Behind the wheel, the design approach seems less understated than it is outside – and feels very opulent. There’s not a single piece of black plastic to be seen, every surface instead covered in nappa leather, alcantara or exquisitely-varnished wood.
As you’d expect, you’re comfortably cossetted by electrically-adjustable Comfort seats, equipped as standard with Massaging functionality and perfectly positioning you in front of the three-spoke wheel. Through it, you view what at first glance appears to be a conventional instrument layout, but which on closer inspection turns out to be an interactive virtual display, the main gauges separated by this small central analogue clock, with advanced information graphics showing just below.
Anything you can’t learn from the read-outs ahead of you will be covered off by the vast 10. 2-inch display of the ‘Professional Multimedia and Navigation system’ that dominates the centre of the dash.
Time to move rearwards and experience a part of this 7 Series on which the designers have lavished considerable care – which is just as well since this will be the most important area of the car for many potential buyers. Standards of legroom are still generous, almost exactly matching those of the class standard-setting Mercedes S-Class, plus you’ll enjoy around 30mm more headroom than that car can offer before reclining your neck into these lovely Alcantara Headrest Pillows.
In summary, though still not the obvious choice in the full-sized luxury segment, the 7 Series has now become an important contender for boardroom buyers to consider. Certainly in sixth generation form, it’s a different proposition when it comes to quality and technology, good to drive – and even better to be driven in.
To ignore it would be to miss out on quite a treat. And quite a car.